The fruit at the top of the tree just might be the best, but if you can’t reach it, you can’t eat it. Most people know what they should be doing to be a better leader, but they may feel that it’s out of reach because it’s either too hard or too time consuming. Here are five simple, actionable things that you can do to immediately improve your leadership.
1. Do what you say you are going to do. We make promises and give commitments. We say yes when we should say no. This results in letting people down. If we do it often enough we get a reputation as not being reliable, not trustworthy – just about the worst things we want people to think about us if we want to influence them. Follow through on your promises or don’t make them.
2. Get in control of your time. It is a universal problem. None of us have enough time to do everything we want or need to. When we are time poor we put the non urgent, leadership stuff on the back burner. Often, we don’t get back to it and the pot has burnt dry. The answer is to better manager our time. This requires two things – a system, and there are plenty of good ones, and discipline to stick to the system.
3. Make your expectations of people clear. Don’t expect people to be mind readers. Be clear, crystal clear about what you need them to do, write it down in less than a page and discuss it with them. No rocket science here, just clarity and communication.
4. Stop delaying difficult conversations. We all do it. We know we should be talking about when performance doesn’t match expectation but we make excuses. It’s probably not that bad. It will blow over. I don’t want to be a nag. I want them to like me. What if there is conflict? Nobody else is noticing. You know the story, if you leave things alone they will get worse. Man up and do the right thing, even if it is difficult. It’s what leaders do.
5. Pump people’s tyres. A powerful predictor of employee engagement, whether they care or not, is if they feel that they are valued, are being recognised and praised for their input. Praise and recognition costs you nothing. Look for opportunities to say thank you and to make people feel like they are valued.
Becoming a better leader is simple. Not easy, but simple. Take stock of where you can improve using some or all of these, then take action. Effective leadership is not the reach that you think.